Sunday, September 27, 2020

6 Pop Culture Fads (That Have Faded Away)

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Amanda Rossenrode
Amanda Rossenrode is a writer, zombie apocalypse expert and chicken finger connoisseur in Southern California. She loves sleeping, boring people by talking about history and impressing her nephew with her mad Super Mario skills. She fears and respects aliens and escalators. When she grows up she wants to be a Bigfoot Investigator. Is there, like a school for that?

If you grew up in the 90’s and have been to the mall lately, you’re probably kicking yourself for throwing out all your crop tops and high waisted jeans. Recent years have proven that nostalgia makes money and suddenly everyone is dressing like their favorite character from Empire Records. I have made a vow never again to throw anything out. That way when Blue’s Clues T-shirts and oversized Dickies come back in style, I’ll be prepared. And also, if the apocalypse happens, I’ll have plenty of used aluminum foil to keep our alien overlords from reading my thoughts! Cite me now Health Department, but one day you’ll be begging for items from my horde!

Not all fads get the honor of being recycled and repackaged by the new generation. Some fads burn bright and fade away to the overstuffed storage container of our minds.

 

“Painless” Hair Remover Products.

Many people, both men and women, have unwanted hair on them. According to television commercials in the mid to late nineties, shaving, waxing or plucking was far worse than being hit by a car or struck by lightning. Or just down right confusing. Picture the commercial in your head right now. Are you seeing a lady in a bathrobe covered in foam lacerating herself outside of the shower while grimacing in pain?

Products like Nair, Nads (giggle) and “laser” and electric devices promised to make you as smooth as a dolphin without any of the pain or inconvenience. There was even a mitt that promised to basically buff the hair away.  To demonstrate how well the product worked, they would exhibit a man with the body hair of an Alaskan grizzly bear and removed a patch of his coat while he stood motionlessly. See, no pain! Grizzly Adams can handle it!  The secret is a rare plant extract only found in the jungles of the Amazon. Or state of the art microwave technology that was given to them by the good, smooth people of Klepton 5. Or the fact if you sand anything long enough, you’re likely to buff off skin, hair, muscle. The fact that the body waxers and Gillette company hasn’t gone bankrupt is probably is better testimonial of quality of these easy pain free products than all the happy models in satin robes.

 

The Juice/Smoothie Craze

To start off, I’m not knocking juice. To quote my nephew, “Can I have some juice please?” There’s nothing better than some O.J. to start your day or cut your vodka. There was a time however when we accepted the liquid from fruit as our personal savior. Jamba Juice and Starbucks were in a death match over which four dollar drink you were going to be sucking on all day. Smoothies with cute names like Sexy Lady and Mango Madness promised everything, from energy to immunity to tolerating a phone conversation with your mother about what you really should do. (Answer: have a baby and work at the phone company. They pay good money.) For fifty cents a pop, you could “power up” your juice with vitamin supplements and wheat grass shots. Why work out or eat sensibly when overpriced juice is the secret to immortality and an upbeat demeanor?

Not to be outdone, appliance companies started making high priced juicers for the home market. Frying an egg or making a bowl of cereal is too much hassle in the morning! Drink your breakfast by juicing  twenty pounds of pulpy fruit for one serving. Of all the people I know that bought a juicer, vowing to make healthy juice smoothies on a daily basis, I estimate that one hundred percent never followed through with the commitment. Like a waffle maker or a panini press or a time machine, the hassle outweighs the novelty rather quickly. Instead, you just toss the juicer in the garage with your Bowflex and deal with the dystopian alternate timeline you’ve created.

 

Microwave Cooking

The microwave is like your best flaky friend –a wonderful blessing and a disappointing curse.  The microwave is great for popcorn, heating up soup or a quick frozen meal but easily destroys things like leftover pizza and burritos, leaving you with some half- melted half-cold hardened mess.  Many people regard their microwave as their own personal Loki –an untrusted ally that you must learn the tricks of to master it. There was a time though that there was an entire industry that insisted you could make anything in the microwave, from meatloaf to dessert.

I would buy this just to see how one makes microwave pancakes.

There was a deluge of microwave cookbooks that included questionable dishes like seafood gumbo and pheasant in cream sauce that you could conveniently ruin with the help of your microwave.  Invite your guests over for a nice steak dinner and watch their faces melt to horror when you tell them you nuked this lovely ribeye for two minutes on High. My family had several of these cookbooks. My mom used to throw a couple pounds of meat in microwave for thirty minutes and call that culinary sin meatloaf. There’s nothing more inviting in a home than the smell of raw salmon being poached in a microwave, a microwave that will retain the villainous fishy funk right through to your microwaved chocolate soufflé.  Even the famed Fyre Festival promoter, Ja Rule wanted to get in on the action, with his own cookbook of microwave recipes that he concocted in prison. Because every host wants to see their guests take a bite of their spaghetti and hear them declare, “My god! It tastes like I’m doing 3-5 in federal lockup!”

 

Workout Videos

In high school I took aerobics because I was sick off playing soccer in the gym. It’s demeaning damn you Coach Carl! The “goal” is just the retracted bleachers which are twenty feet high and we’re playing with a flat volleyball! Linda has no chance as goalie, she’s not even trying anymore.

Our aerobics teacher had the easiest job on earth, this side of kitten cuteness tester. She just popped a video in by Cindy Crawford, Claudia Schiffer or Denise Austin and we halfheartedly went along with it. Did we see results? Who knows, we were sixteen, we all had the metabolism of hummingbirds. The workout video market was huge, promising lazy people buns of steel in just four minutes a day in the comfort of their own home. Billy Blanks could scream at you while you attempted Tae Bo, Richard Simmons could talk you down, some coked up model could pretend that getting up and sitting down in a chair could melt the pounds like butter in a hot skillet. Regular exercise just too boring? Hit up the DVD section at Ross for salsa workouts, hip hop boot camp and belly dancing. True, flailing around like a wacky waving arm balloon to a generic version of “Get Your Freak On” will burn some calories,  but if you don’t know what you’re doing you’re just a ridiculous fool risking tearing a hamstring. The commercials always supplied enthusiastic testimonials about people who dropped eight sizes due to a daily bout of Cha Cha-ing to the right now, but for most people it was just something that their roommate could walk in and laugh at.

 

Non-Country Western Line Dancing

Image result for bye bye bye video

We’re over this one now right? The last dance craze I remember seems to be “The Dougie” and I do believe the entire song was about his desire to learn “The Dougie”. Although I remember my four year old niece showing me how to do the Stanky Leg, I don’t recall which came first.

There are three ways for a music artist to gain immortality. The first is actual talent. The second is writing a song about a holiday. Write a song about fireworks or Halloween and watch the royalties roll in. I’m writing a dubstep tribute to Washington’s Birthday. The third is to create a stupid line dance that can be done by drunk aunts at weddings.

The Hustle, The Macarena, The Chicken Dance, The Humpty Dance, whatever the hell Will Smith was ordering us to do in “Men in Black”, The Electric Slide, Cha Cha Shuffle, all perfect excuses to look like a bunch of dorks in unison. The line dance knows no bounds, all ages, sexes and races can come together and look like their auditioning for the worst Bollywood movie ever. Your baby sister can do it, your dusty old Senator can do it to look hip. It was the scourge of Bat Mitzvahs and weddings across the nation, when DJ Carl would call everyone out on the dance floor to participate in such a humiliating procedure. Like a nightmare game of Twister set to music, the artist would usually spell out the moves to the dance, left foot here, double time, pop your head, helicopter spin –in a cruel mission to relieve the dignity of all present.  Middle school gym teachers doubled down on this horror show, forcing already dangerously awkward pubescent kids to do the Electric Slide as part of the gym curriculum, making one yearn for the simpler times of just plain sucking at volleyball.

 

Collectable Cups

It seems now that a new superhero movie comes out every day, but in the time of yore we celebrated our summer blockbusters with commemorative chalices built to hold 182 ounces of carbonated sugar water.  I do believe that from 1991 to 2000 my parents never had to buy glassware. McDonald’s, Burger King and even Del Taco would give you your own collectable plastic cup if you upgraded to a Diabetes Size Coke. You could have the pleasure of enjoying your tasty beverage while Chris O’Donnell’s masked mug starred back at you and wondered what happened to his career. Some even ran promotions where for a buck or so more you could buy a jelly jar with a cheap sticker of the movie character of the moment. Said stickers would immediately start to peel once placed in the dishwasher.  Did we actually think that like Beanie Babies, these things were ever going to be worth anything? Certainly we never knew that McDonald’s Happy Meal toys would ever be anything more than a hazard to bare feet in the dark. If I did I’d have that pet tiger and a sweet condo by now. Two bedrooms so my tiger has some privacy.

My extensive ten minutes of research on Ebay has shown me that people are genuinely weird. Also, you’d have been better off saving one of McDonald’s cardboard of Styrofoam cups from that era than the “collectible” cups. I mean, you’re a freakshow if you did, or you want to spend over a hundred bucks on a used coffee cup, but I guess the heart wants what the heart wants. Bizarrely, the McDonald’s Batman Forever mugs go for upwards of a hundred dollars. You remember Batman Forever, the second worst Batman? Well if you had hung on to your Robin mug you’d have enough money to see the next worst Batman when it comes out. Or maybe O’Donnell is just selling off his storage unit of Robin mugs. If not, I may just hang on to my A-Team remake Del Taco cup for another twenty years.

For some reason this is worth money!

Hundreds of years from now, when the archeologists from Klepton 5 excavate our civilization, they will find the artifacts of our past and piece together a story of the primitive people of Earth. They were a hairless folk, who had little understanding of the proper way to use chairs, going so far as to create instructions on how to get in and out of them. They ruined their food in atomic boxes and danced in unison to celebrate their gods Robin and Mr. T which they engraved on their tableware.  And their greatest achievement was a dubstep song about Washington’s Birthday.

Are there any past/present fads you hope will fade away and never return? Let Nerdbot know in the comments!

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